a bit too mathematical?

February 29, 2008

The other day I was called a “mathematician” by a person I work with. I told her it was “mathematician-no-to-be” that I used to call myself. But she said I was a mathematician to her, which is true. Now I remember all the time when I was with my thesis advisor or the group of combinatorics people from MIT and Harvard, when I felt totally inconfident about my mathematical ability and background, when I was so fearful of being considered as mathematically equal to them that I had to emphasize to people, such as my grand-advisor (the advisor of my advisor), that I was a mathematician-not-to-be.

Well, things change. Now I am in a math department consists of all groups of people, some working on applied mathematics, some on pure mathematics, some on mathematics education, and some on a mixture of a subset of such. Among them, I am not only transformed day by day into a mixture of pure math and math education myself, but also treated more than often as mathematically advantageous to people, if they could be categorized in this way, who don’t have a Ph.D in math. On the other hand, I am still the same person as before, same mathematically incompetent, same shy, or even more shy since now people around me not only have advantage on math than me, but also have advantage on math education. Whoever I am facing, I am lower….


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